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Bettman trumpets ‘truly remarkable’ season

Jun 4, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT

2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Not even two years after the resolution of a lockout that many predicted would cripple the NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman sat at the podium before the start of the Stanley Cup Final and said the league has enjoyed the most successful season in its history.

To his credit, he didn’t say, “I told you so.”

Instead, he called 2013-14 a “truly remarkable” season for the NHL, while referencing:

— The record attendance and TV viewership numbers.

— The successful series of outdoor games, all sold out.

— The “overwhelmingly positive” reception to the new playoff format.

— The “unparalleled competitive balance” of a league that hasn’t had a repeat champion since 1998, and won’t again this year.

— The dramatic rise in franchise values, largely a function of skyrocketing rights fees for live sports, on which the NHL capitalized this season.

— The “great business opportunity” that a reborn World Cup presents, even if the idea isn’t “fully baked” and still needs to be hashed out with the NHLPA. (On the subject of the Olympics and whether the NHL would continue to participate in the Games, he said no decision had been made, and to this point, not much thought had been put into it.)

— The continuing interest from investors in pursuit of expansion teams, even if the NHL isn’t quite ready to add teams yet.

Heck, Bettman even took one of the biggest challenges facing the NHL — head injuries — and spun it into a positive, noting that concussions were down this season, a development he believed was a “function of the concussion protocols working.”

While he admitted there was still work to be done in that area — in fact, he said teams had been disciplined behind the scenes for violating the protocols — he shifted much of the responsibility for the players’ safety onto the players themselves, saying that players must continue to learn that it’s “okay to say you’re suffering from concussion symptoms.” Otherwise, it’s “pretty difficult” to tell if they’re faking in order to stay in the game.

To be sure, Bettman will continue to face criticism over concussions and how seriously the NHL treats the health of its players. The positive spin he put on the subject today will be seen by many as just that — spin.

But compared to years past, that criticism will seem like nothing. Remember, the NHL’s “truly remarkable” season still has at least four games left, and with a Stanley Cup Final match-up between teams from the “two biggest cities,” the good news seems bound to keep coming for the commish.

  1. ewampus - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    He’s still a rat bastard

  2. iwt5007 - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    An announcement that Pierre McGuire will be off the air next season would be the cherry on top for this season…..waiting patiently for the day I can watch an NBC game unmuted.

  3. AppealToReason - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:50 PM



    • nightfireop - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:54 PM


    • govtminion - Jun 4, 2014 at 8:05 PM

      I couldn’t help but think that while reading this too, glad to see I’m not the only one who noticed that little quirk.

  4. joey4id - Jun 4, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    You don’t have to like GB, but, if you’re enjoying the game as it is today, then you’ve got to thank GB for doing his part.

    • jcmeyer10 - Jun 4, 2014 at 8:18 PM

      Don’t usually agree with you but this. Just like Stern and the NBA. The guy was who he was but they are businessmen and their business is making money and trending in the right direction.

  5. claudegirwho - Jun 4, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    Hehe you said “hashed” and “fully baked” in the same sentence

  6. litsince - Jun 4, 2014 at 9:12 PM

    O im sure they have high tv revenue, i subscribed to nhl gamecenter, that was worthless. any good game was blacked out, never again, down with betman!!!!

    • washcraps - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:27 AM No blackouts, better quality, and cheaper.

  7. vbcaps - Jun 4, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    Agree or disagree with bettman, his #1 job is to generate revenue and ultimately increased net profits for the 30 owners.

    In that regard he is very successful as comish

  8. heynyc61 - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    Game Center worthless??? How so? It’s fantastic.. And I know lots of hockey fans who buy it and not one had a neg comment

    • ironyisadeadscene - Jun 5, 2014 at 6:28 AM

      Agreed. Living in Washington Capitals-land is terrible (Craig Laughlin sucks) as a Bruins fan, game center saved me.

    • washcraps - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      Blackouts suck, slow interface, and stream quality could be much better. I’ve used for the last 2 season and it’s been amazing. As I said above, it has no blackouts, better quality, and is cheaper. They also stream many other leagues, IIHF games, and Olympics.

  9. c9castine - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:54 AM

    everybody wants to hate on Bettman but he has transformed the game of hockey and made it relevant.

    its WAY stronger than it has ever been.

    the negativity towards him makes no sense to me. we should be thanking him. liking him personally is completely beside the point.

  10. titansbro - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    Hockey is way more popular today than it was 5-10 years ago. I hate when he is called the worst commish in sports, Stern & Selig are 100 times worse. People will always hate the commissioners for some reason.

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